Last Tuesday, a police officer in a Pittsburgh suburb shot and killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose. The black teenager was unarmed and cell phone footage footage shows that he was fleeing the police officer when he was shot. The devastating effects of this incident will ripple far beyond Allegheny County and according to a new study, it will be felt widely.
In the study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and Harvard examined the mental health effect on black Americans when there is a police killing of an unarmed black person in their own state. The results show that following this kind of killing, black Americans experience stress that is equivalent to living with a chronic illness.
Exposure to traumatic events in childhood and youth — known as adverse childhood experiences —are one of the best predictors of disease. The more adverse childhood experiences, the higher the risk of smoking, drug addiction, obesity and other diseases. As we age, the impact of stressful events continues to harm. Racism-induced stress in adults has been linked to diseases from hypertension to breast cancer.
Now we know that the effect goes beyond the person stopped or their neighbors, and impacts the entire state.
To read the full article by the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board, click here.